Operational changes and stronger financial accountability have reduced the WSIB's unfunded liability from $14.2 billion in 2012 to $10.6 billion today, reported WSIB chair Elizabeth Witmer on April 30. In a good news message to employers, supervisors and workers attending WSPS's national Partners in Prevention Conference & Trade Show, Witmer advised that "we are currently transforming the WSIB to a more fiscally accountable, transparent and sustainable system that is more responsive to the needs of those we serve — the 290,000 employers and the more than 5 million workers (2013)."
Witmer had more good news to report:
- healthier finances have enabled the WSIB to freeze premium rates for 2014.
- new claim costs are coming down, so that Ontario has one of the lowest new claim costs in Canada. "Absent the cost of paying for the unfunded liability," said Witmer, "the WSIB would have one of the most competitive premium rates in Canada."
- the WSIB's new return to work program and medical strategy are improving outcomes by helping workers recover and return to work more safely and quickly. For example, rapid referrals to high quality health care providers, programs of care and specialized assessment and treatment services have reduced the number of permanent impairments.
- to help injured workers return to their workplace, or those with complicated cases find other work, the WSIB now has 300 return-to-work staff. Research shows that if workers do not return to at least some sort of light work within 90 days of their injuries, the chances that they will ever get back to work drops by 50%.
The WSIB's return to work program and medical strategy have also generated economic benefits:
- two million fewer work days lost in 2012 compared to three years earlier
- a $500 million reduction in benefit costs resulting from faster recovery and return to work.
"This represents an almost a $1 billion injection straight back into the Ontario GDP," said Witmer. That is good news for everyone."
Find out more about the WSIB at www.wsib.on.ca.